U OF S GETS $1 MILLION FOR NEW JOINT RESEARCH CHAIR IN AG ECONOMICS AND COMMERCE
The University of Saskatchewan will receive $500,000 from federal granting councils over the next five years and a matching amount from industry for a new research chair that will establish the U of S as a centre of expertise in the management of technological change in agriculture.
A key goal of the research will be to assist the agri-food industry to grow more rapidly and commercialize more products successfully.
Speaking on behalf of Mr. John Manley (Minister of Industry), Mr. Ralph Goodale (Minister of Natural Resources) said: "Our ability to innovate in the future will depend as much on our creativity in the research lab as in our ability to develop a cadre of experts who know how to manage the innovation process efficiently and effectively."
Federal funding comes from a program that aims to promote research into the management of technological change. NSERC (Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council) contributes two thirds of the federal investment, while SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) provides the remainder.
"In the coming years, the U of S has a unique opportunity to contribute to and lead global research into the management of technological change in agriculture," said Dr. Peter Phillips, who assumes responsibility this month for the new NSERC-SSHRC Chair in Managing Knowledge-Based Agri-Food Development.
"Saskatoon is an ideal centre for this as it has a strong base of academic research in related disciplines, and all the major agricultural biotechnology companies are currently undertaking research in Saskatoon or have links to the local research community," added Phillips who is currently Van Vliet Chair Professor at the U of S and a former assistant deputy minister for Saskatchewan Economic Development.
Private sector funding will come from producer funds obtained from an endowment ($400,000), as well as from Ag-West Biotech Inc., a not-for-profit company facilitating biotechnology initiatives in Saskatchewan ($100,000).
In addition, the U of S will contribute $90,000 in in-kind and financial support over the five years of the program.
Phillips will examine intellectual property rights related to agri-food research and commercialization, as well as marketing of new biotechnology products and ways of gaining access to international markets.
He will also work with provincial and federal departments to identify issues, disseminate research results, and provide policy advice.
"The newness of the technologies has raised concerns about long-term environmental, health and safety issues," Phillips said. "The goal will be to develop a better understanding of how firms, industry and governments, alone or jointly, can resolve these concerns and establish a climate that supports growth."
The new Chair will be part of the Centre for the Study of Agriculture, Law and the Environment (CSALE) on campus. The Chair is a joint appointment between the College of Agriculture's department of agricultural economics and the College of Commerce's department of management and marketing.
"I'm delighted that Dr. Phillips, who currently occupies the prestigious Van Vliet Chair in agricultural economics, has agreed to be appointed to the new chair," said recently retired Agriculture Dean John Stewart.
"It is important that this industry be developed in an atmosphere where ethical and social issues associated with this new technology are debated and understood. The ideal place for this debate is at the university."
With close links to the U of S's new virtual college of biotechnology, Phillips will develop and teach a new class in managing technological change in the agri-food industry. He will also supervise graduate students, develop courses for company executives, and provide advice and analysis to the industry on issues related to technological change.
Phillips will be assisted by a research associate and an advisory committee of academic and industry researchers. It's anticipated that at least five students will undertake and complete research during the five years of the program.
Succeeding Phillips in the Van Vliet Chair for the period July 1, 1999 to June 30, 2002 will be University of Calgary economics professor Bill Kerr. Dr. Kerr has studied and published in many areas of agricultural trade and agricultural trade policy.
For more information, contact:
Dr. Peter Phillips
Chair in Managing Knowledge-Based Agri-Food Development
University of Saskatchewan
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